We talk about collaboration and telling the stories of our family almost as though it is something new. Surely this is the real reason why so many of us get interested in genealogy in the first instance. Whatever our age we all like to hear about things that have happened be it last week or last century.
This month I have decided to write about collaboration and how the perception of genealogy has changed due to the internet and our increasing use of what is available to connect with others.
When I first started researching our family history (I am also researching my husband's family) the internet was in its infancy and we were on dial up. This was expensive and you would go online pick up your emails and read them later.
Collaborating with others was difficult but not impossible and like many others I used some of the Rootsweb mailing lists of relevance to my research interests.
The only other way of communicating with fellow researchers was to belong to a family history society to find other researchers and contact them by post.
Research in those early days, even just finding a reference to order a certificate, meant heading off to record offices or local archives where you had to trawl through microfiche or film to find what you wanted. There were some indexes available mainly through local family history societies which did help you find the right roll of film.
Programmes like WDYTYA http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007t575 which is showing its 11th series in the UK have changed public perception and sparked interest in the hobby. Despite only a small proportion of the resources available being online, what is there has made a difference to the way we both conduct and record our research.
These changes have taken place over a relatively short space of time and it is true that there are those who have not truly embraced the changes.
There has been discussion on social networks about how family history societies may need to change to connect with the needs of their members. Some have been forward thinking and have reached out to researchers across the world by providing access to online education but this may not be an avenue that every society can or should copy.
The societies I belong to in England have changed some of the things they do but we must not forget that they rely upon volunteers. The direction that each society takes will depend upon who has the time and inclination to commit to the development of that society. This can lead to a society stagnating because none of its members has the inclination or time to commit to change. If you belong to a society which may be stuck in the past don’t forget to make suggestions, they may get ignored, but any society is only as good as its members are willing to make it.
What do you want from your society? Don’t forget to tell those who help run the society, you may find that others think the same.
I have mentioned discussion on social networks and these have become the equivalent of the mailing lists of the past but more. Facebook has groups for genealogy and Google+ has its communities. There are also others such as Twitter and Pintrest. Whereas we communicated by email and text in the past we now have a much more visual way of sharing. This has enhanced our ability to share our experiences but opened up more challenges when we publish online what might be copyrighted. Will these copyright challenges limit our experience?
We also interact using our blogs such as this one and many other individual blogs see Geneabloggers http://www.geneabloggers.com/genealogy-blogs/ maintained by Thomas MacEntee.
Whilst webinars http://blog.geneawebinars.com/ are an educational resource they can help provide pointers to things you may not be aware of and they are a great way to get information to those who may not be able to get to conferences or other genealogy events.
Video blogging using the Hangouts on Air on Google+ is becoming increasingly popular and allows genealogists from across the world to communicate by live discussion. They can also be used as a tool similar to webinars and a way to share how you do things.
To finish I would like to tell you about a Google+ community I am setting up to discuss how we get our genealogy software to work for us.
I will post on my blog http://masteringgenealogysoftware.blogspot.co.uk/ when I launch. I want this to be a discussion forum so that we can learn from each other, we all need to collaborate.